Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors: Day 2

Readers,

Today’s post could be subtitled “The Secret Language of Menswear.”

Hayward

Hayward

My classmates’ and my mission today was to crack the code of lapels, pockets, buttons, fit, and shoulder shaping to determine the “house style” of various tailoring establishments. Our instructor, tailor Victoria Townsend, gave us a map of London’s West End with a list of places to visit and turned us loose.

Hayward

Hayward

Roaming the streets in twos or threes, we would pause in jaw-dropped admiration of the jackets in the windows. We would take note of one-, two, or three-button closures, the height and angle of the gorge line (where the collar is seamed to the lapel), the width of lapels, the closeness of fit in the waist, the number, size and kind of pockets, whether double-welted or single-welted with flap.

Hayward

Hayward

With this warmup exercise behind us we felt ready to go in and explain ourselves to the salesperson.

Hayward: Stefan showing us fabric samples.

Hayward: Stefan showing us fabric samples.

“Hello, we’re taking a course at the Fashion and Textile Museum, “Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors,” and our instructor, Victoria Townsend, has given us a list of places to look at menswear and determine the ‘house style.'”

Thom Sweeney

Thom Sweeney

Then we’d wait and see how the salesperson handled this news.

Thom Sweeney

Thom Sweeney

“House style” apparently can’t be easily put into words, because we didn’t get a clear answer all day, although Stefan and James, the salespersons who helped us at Hayward, were willing to venture that a one-button jacket closure is modern, two is standard, and three is…I forget. But I’m sure it signifies something to somebody.

Sir Tom Baker

Sir Tom Baker

As I scrutinized the conservative cuts at Dunhill, the more modern looks at Spencer Hart, and the avant-garde styles on display at Sir Tom Baker, perhaps I did absorb some vague sense of house styles along the way.

Dege & Skinner: upstairs

Dege & Skinner: upstairs

But I’ve got an idea of how to get a really good grasp. All of us in this class are women, and I have this hunch that the salesmen have sworn to uphold the secret language of menswear.  The way to crack the code is this:

Have each of these places make a bespoke suit for my husband. Then we’ll compare.

Dege & Skinner: downstairs

Dege & Skinner: downstairs

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5 thoughts on “Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors: Day 2

  1. Not sure about their explanation of the three buttons, but I remember reading (in a “preppy” style blog ) something about three buttons being on a jacket although only two were used. It seemed that the top button and buttonhole were under the roll line slightly. I think they called it a 3/2 or something. Anyway, I take comfort in knowing there are those among us that find these things interesting!!!!
    Love the photos. Thanks again for sharing your experience with us.

    • This is so interesting, Marguerite; thanks for bringing it up. I believe–no, I know–I have a jacket pattern or two that has this option. You can button up the jacket higher or lower; the choice is yours. When I get back to the sewing domain I must look through my patterns and find the ones with this option. I can’t remember if they’re from the 1930s, ’40s, or ’50s–maybe all of those. Now I want to sew them. I bet I’d have to make interfacing decisions that would take this option into consideration so that the lapel would lie naturally either way.

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